Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The One I Left Behind (Jennifer McMahon)

I first discovered the genius that is Jennifer McMahon back in 2009 when I was browsing my local bookstore for something to read on vacation.  I came across a book called Island of the Lost Girls with a haunting picture of a little girl on the cover.  So engrossed was I in this book that I literally did not want to go sightseeing with my husband JUST so I get continue to read the darn thing!  Here's my review of that one:  Since then, I've been hooked, and you'll find reviews of other McMahon novels in this blog.

In her newest, The One I Left Behind, she shows why she is one of the most preeminent mystery writers of our day.  What happens when someone you thought was long dead shows up very much alive?  Reggie is a gifted architect who has tried to rebuild her life after her actress mother, Vera, was thought to be the last known victim of the serial killer Neptune.  Vera's body was never found, but her hand was left on the steps of the police station.  When Vera is found alive but disoriented years later, Reggie must come back to her childhood home to try to piece together what the police cannot.

With a slew of interesting characters and an ultra-suspenseful plot, the reader is always left breathless and wanting more.  McMahon seamlessly weaves together chapters narrated by Reggie's 13-year-old self, her adult self, and pages from a crime novel written about the case.  In less capable hands, this becomes a dangerous way to tell the story, as things can become discombobulated.  But McMahon does it masterfully, and it only enhances her storytelling.  I can't recommend The One I Left Behind strongly enough.